New Orleans to Canada: Day 12 Youngstown, PA to Gettysburg, PA

Steve Kinchen, Sr/ May 28, 2013/ BMW R1200RT, General Rants & Raves About Riding, New Orleans to Canada 2013, Touring/ 0 comments

Date: May 28th, 2013

Departure TIme: 8:58 am

Departure Temperature: 62 degrees

Arrival Time: 6:25pm

States Covered: Pennsylvania

Miles Covered: 255 (200+ rain-soaked)

Our Route Today

Our Route Today

We rolled directily towards Gettysburg this morning via I-76 deleteing our side adventure on PA 666 taking us into the heart of the Allegheny National Forest. This call was a bit of a disappointment to us all as the weather has not been kind to us for adventure riding such as this. Reviews of this stretch of ashphalt are very exciting such as the following:

“This road’s topography makes it a great ride. Every bit of its 30 miles is covered with banked turns and abrupt, small elevation changes. There’s even the “cork screw” downhill turn section about halfway through. The trees whizzing past on either side are pretty cool, too.”

This deletion also marked the removal of US Route 6, otherwise known as The Grand Army of the Republic Highway. This road is also a national treasure and reviews are such as this:

“U.S. Route 6 passes through towns and villages whose boarded up buildings and rough exteriors could easily deceive those who rely on hasty first impressions. It requires a short visit, a cup of coffee in the diner, a walk in the square, and a chat with passers by to find the proud, hardworking communities that still exist. These are communities whose labor fueled the industrialization of this nation – mining towns that were populated by immigrants from all regions of Europe. And judging by the long lists of names on monuments in each town square, these are patriotic communities who sacrificed dearly to support their new country, all the way back to the Civil War. Travel across Pennsylvania’s portion of the Grand Army of the Republic Highway for an excellent ride, not just because of the long sweeps and turns as it crosses the state, but because this historical highway offers a chance to rediscover a time gone by. Eat in 1930’s diners, walk on the famous Kinzua Trestle bridge, ride a steam train, descend into a coal mine, and above all, meet a proud people with stories to tell–All on Pennsylvania’s Grand Army of the Republic Highway”

Instead of these beautiful routes, we were treated to another morning of road spray and splatter from passing vehicles as well as the steady pissing of rain similar to standing in the shower for 5 hours, fully clothed, with an industrial fan blowing 65+ MPH winds. I documented a few minutes of footage using my GoPro cameras for posterity in the off chance that I ever forget what it is like to ride over 3500 miles in 11 days in the rain.

All of that being said, we are having a great time getting to know one another and our idiosyncrasies. As we were riding though one of the tunnels on the Pennsylvania Turnpike this morning,(one of the rare breaks in the rain that we enjoyed…) Randall started revving his Harley creating a sound that is somewhat similar to standing in front of a jet engine and a lion roaring at the same time. We have been having a good laugh about the sound of their bikes compared to the BMW’s. It is sort of like enjoying a very fine cabernet, being able to discern the various characteristics of the wine such as the terroir, the barrel aging, the growing region, even the blending techniques… compared to slamming back a couple of shots of rot-gut whatever to get you to the point of intoxication. Both do the job… But I digress. The BMW’s come to life with the sophistication of a stealth fighter jet, where as the Harley’s roar to life, or sputter at times, like a stumbling drunkard walking down Bourbon Street on Ash Wednesday.

We enjoyed another stretch of PA Hwy 30 on our way into Gettysburg and rejoined Matt about 25 miles before entering the town proper. I took my time making my way around the turns and grade changes leading into town and Jon, Randall and Trent left the rest of us behind a bit as they laid into the turns with a higher degree of aggression. I am the youngest rider by age and also miles logged, and it is at times like this that it begins to show. However, I ride at my level of confidence, as they are riding at theirs.

Arriving at Gettysburg was a spiritual experience for me when the area is placed into context of our nations history. We rode by graveyard after graveyard, fields filled with monuments and statues paying tribute to the men that bled on this ground. It is a solemn place.

We elected to tour the museum and take in the short film produced about the three day siege. The highlight for me thus far was the “diorama” depicting the final day of the battle. Words can not do this painting and 3D immersive experience justice. I am thankful to have been able to be a part of the 150th anniversary remembrance of this dark time in our history.

As we pulled into our hotel this evening, we met two older gentlemen that, oddly enough were from Canada, that were making their way back up from New Orleans. We all had a great laugh about the fact that we were taking the same trip in opposite directions. (there is more to this story, and that line in particular… if you want to know what, as me!) They were riding a reproduction of a 1950’s Royal Infield 500cc single with a side car. When I saw that, I immediately wanted to look into getting one so that I could take my dad for a ride anytime he would like to go. We asked for their permission to pray travelers blessings upon them before they left and they were receptive, so Jon led us all in a prayer for God’s protection over them as they continue in their journey back to Quebec.

Two final notes… When I finally peeled my rain suit from my saturated body this evening, I turned it inside out in order to facilitate faster drying. After riding over 3500 rain drenched miles, I noticed that the blue die from my jeans is leeching in to the fabric of my rain suit. Secondly, tonight will be the closest I have ever slept to a cemetery. As I laid out my rain suit, I looked out the window of my room and saw the headstones in the cemetery next-door. May they STILL rest in peace!

Tomorrow is an early start as we want to ride through the battlefield on our way out of town. The weather seems encouraging, but we shall see…
















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